President Trump promised to get tough on China. This isn't it.
Hey, remember this?
That Donald Trump clip has a little bit of everything: Trump Tower, the George Washington Bridge, Tom Brady, and even ISIS. It's from Trump's 2016 speech launching his presidential campaign, and set the course for his campaign and eventual presidency.
As you might recall, the entire speech is, um, very Trumpian. In the clip above, Trump makes the argument that China is hurting the United States because of unfair trade, and it's time for new leadership (guess who!) to make a better deal. Here's Trump:
We have all the cards, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t even know that we have the cards, because our leaders don’t understand the game. We could turn off that spigot by charging them tax until they behave properly.
Which brings us to this past weekend.
Trump administration officials and Chinese leaders held a series of meetings in Beijing and Washington over the past several weeks to talk trade issues. The talks stemmed from Trump's decision to issue tariffs on select Chinese products in response to China's years of unchecked theft of intellectual property. China, you'll recall, responded with its own set of tariffs on American products.
China made no tangible, enforceable commitments to finally begin to address its intellectual property theft, which costs the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. China also didn't agree to any measurable reform of its many unfair trade practices (state-led capitalism, industrial overcapacity, piracy, currency cheating, etc.) that cost 3.4 million American jobs between 2001 and 2015 alone.
Instead, U.S. officials agreed to suspend the use of tariffs on Chinese products, which was the biggest playing card it had. Now China has no pressure to actually make good on its promises of reform. Without any pressure, China is highly unlikely to make good on those promises.
If this is indeed a trade war, China is winning.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump talked a big game when it comes to China. President Trump seems to have less of an appetite for actually playing it.